Gambling revenue from table games and slot machines at Atlantic City casinos fell short of pre-pandemic levels again last month, but overall revenues were up.
The ongoing trend of online gambling and sports betting revenues propping up the brick-and-mortar industry continued in April, according to recent data from state gaming regulators.
However, as New Jersey loosens COVID-19 restrictions and more of the general population is vaccinated, officials believe Atlantic City casinos will have a resurgent summer.
“With all necessary safety protocols in place and in concurrence with Gov. (Phil) Murphy‘s directives, Atlantic City is ready to welcome back visitors for the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of what promises to be a robust summer season,” said James Plousis, chairman of the NJ Casino Control Commission.
Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, said the industry is “optimistic about a safe return to normalcy this summer at the Jersey Shore.”
Before Atlantic City swings into summer mode, here are a few takeaways from April’s gaming revenue reports.
Land-based gambling revenue still down at Atlantic City casinos
People are coming to Atlantic City casinos and spending money. Considering AC casinos were closed a year ago, that’s obviously a positive.
The flip side of that coin is the gambling parlors are making less, an expected consequence of NJ’s pandemic prohibitions.
Slot machines and table games, the bread-and-butter of the city’s nine casinos, are generating less revenue now than two years ago.
Atlantic City casinos reported $189.6 million in table and slot revenue (casino win) in April, according to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. Compared to the $207.6 million reported in April 2019, last month’s casino win is a decrease of 8.7%
Through the first four months of 2021, brick-and-mortar gambling revenue is down more than 15% from the same period in 2019. Year-to-date casino win in 2021 is $682.75 million, compared to $804.7 million in 2019.
|Casino||Table & Other||Poker||Slot Machines||Total Gaming Win|
|Golden Nugget||$1,991,992||$ -||$9,014,313||$11,006,305|
|Hard Rock||$12,519,127||$ -||$22,712,543||$35,231,670|
|Ocean Casino||$5,148,707||$ -||$16,991,357||$22,140,064|
Money talks at Atlantic City casinos
A closer look at how much gamblers are spending on the casino floors tells the story.
Slot machines are the biggest money makers on any casino floor. In AC, the one-arm bandits are seeing about 19% less action to start 2021 than they did in 2019.
Coin-in, the amount of money played in slot machines, is down $1.2 billion across the city.
However, it appears that number is moving in the right direction. In March ‘21, coin-in was down 21.2% from 2019, while the dip was just 8.4% last month.
Table games revenue is a more fluid metric since the house can have an unlucky month at any time. Nevertheless, both table drop (amount gambled) and the casino’s hold percentage are down.
Year-to-date table game drop is $1.176 billion in 2021, down 13.8% from the $1.365 billion two years ago. The hold percentage dropped slightly from 16.2% to 15.6%.
New month, same story as online & sports betting come to the rescue
Online gambling and mobile sports betting are a buffer for lagging land-based revenues. Both segments continue to report gains that help propel total gaming revenue reported by Atlantic City casinos upward.
Total gaming revenue — sum of casino win, online gaming, and sports betting — increased by 27.9% in 2021 ($320.55 million) over 2019 ($250.7 million).
However, the increase is completely due to online gaming and sports betting.
The $107.7 million from online gambling and $23.2 million from sports betting, accounted for nearly 41% of April’s total. Two years ago, online and sports betting were responsible for just 17% of the monthly total.
Hard Rock and Ocean are playing for keeps
Borgata’s reign as the leader among Atlantic City casinos is unquestionable. But, there is little doubt the market’s two “newest” players are making the Big B sweat.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa reported $38.5 million in casino win last month. Year-to-date, Borgata has generated more than $160.2 million.
Hard Rock is right on Borgata’s heels, posting $35.2 million from tables and slots last month. Through April, Hard Rock’s casino win is $116.1 million.
Ocean Casino Resort was third among AC’s nine properties in casino win last month, posting $22.1 million. Ocean has reported just over $81.6 million in 2021 thus far.
Here are the April ’21 and YTD casino win revenue figures for the remainder of the AC properties:
- Bally’s: $11 million / $36.5 million
- Caesars: $18.8 million / $65.1 million
- Golden Nugget: $11 million / $40.6 million
- Harrah’s: $20.7 million / $68.3 million
- Resorts: $13 million / $44.3 million
- Tropicana: $19.2 million / $69.9 million